India successfully tests Interceptor missile

In a huge step towards an operational two-tier ballistic missile defence (BMD) system, India tested a low-altitude interceptor missile to destroy an i...

India successfully tests Interceptor missile

In a huge step towards an operational two-tier ballistic missile defence (BMD) system, India tested a low-altitude interceptor missile to destroy an incoming ballistic missile over the Bay of Bengal on Wednesday.

On February 11, DRDO tested a high-altitude interceptor missile as part of the experimental BMD system, which is designed to track and destroy ballistic missiles both inside and outside the earth's atmosphere for a higher "kill" probability.

Last month the test involved the "exo-atmospheric" interceptor missile hitting the target at an altitude of 97-km, the test-firing on Wednesday was against an incoming missile at 15-km altitude.

Defence officials said the interceptor missile fired from the Abdul Kalam Island (Wheeler Island) off Odisha coast "successfully destroyed" the incoming "enemy" Prithvi missile, which was launched from the integrated test range at Chandipur, at 10.15 am.

"All the mission objectives were successfully met. The weapon system radars tracked the target and provided the initial guidance to the interceptor which could precisely home on to the target and destroyed it in the endo-atmospheric layer. The complete event including the engagement and destruction was tracked by a number of electro-optical tracking systems using infrared imagery. Radars and telemetry stations tracked the target and the interceptor till the destruction of the target," said the defence ministry, in a statement.

However, the even though the development of this two-layered missile shield began in the late-1990s, it will take 2 more years with the first interceptor missile being tested in 2006. Only the US, Russia, Israel and China have operational BMD systems as of now.

The ongoing testing of the Phase-I of the indigenous BMD system is meant to tackle hostile missiles with a 2,000-km strike range. The Phase-II, in turn, will be geared for taking on 5,000-km range missiles, with interceptors at hypersonic speeds of 6-7 Mach.